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The accomplished Hollywood screenwriter, who has worked on large scale franchises such as The Avengers and X-Men, gave us a taste of what to expect from the Matrix reboot everyone has been talking about.

Was it really a shock, in the midst of Hollywood franchise fever, that The Matrix, perhaps one of the most iconic films in the history of American cinema, was on the list for rejuvenation? It’s certainly inspired a lot of strong reactions.

The Wachowski’s original trilogy, inspired by its anime roots, was always somewhat open ended. Executives have made it quite clear over the past few years alone that no property is sacred when a recognisable brand is on the table. Rumours have flown left and right over the past week as to who would star in such a film, what that film would be about and where it would even fit into the franchise. The only concrete name to come out of the commotion has been screenwriter Zak Penn who, in a series of tweets over the past two days, has clarified a few of the project’s intentions.

He firstly wanted people to know that, despite the temptation to call it that, the new film will not be a reboot. Or, at the very least, that’s not what he signed up for. Generally, he’s stayed fairly mum on the issue; confirming that he is definitely on board with the project in an official capacity and that the ball is already rolling. He claims that the terms “reboot” and “remake” were attributed to the project by an inaccurate and speculative news article, saying “no one could or should reboot the Matrix”. No doubt this was in reference to the original report made by The Hollywood Reporter on March 14th.

He went on to give a couple of reassurances to fans by stating that Keanu Reeves’ character, Neo, would not be recast and that he does not believe the original film could be improved upon. He compared the new project with what 20th Century Fox is currently doing with their Marvel Comics property, X-Men, citing the success of their new films Logan and Deadpool as well as their TV series Legion. He claims that he simply wants to see more stories set in the same universe “Because it’s a brilliant idea that generates great stories”.

It’s too early to say with any degree of certainty whether or not these promises will be stuck to. So -called “soft reboots” and “requels” are a booming business in Hollywood at the moment. They’ve brought an equal amount of high-profile success and failure as studios attempt to cash in on the craze, from the monster success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World to the abusive online disaster of the new Ghostbusters film.

Actor Michael B. Jordan has also been rumoured to be attached to, or in consideration for, the project. Some sites have speculated that he’s being eyed to play the role of a, presumably, younger Morpheus. Considering that his name has been the first to come up in reference to the cast, it’s likely that he’ll be the lead. Whether this means that the film will be a prequel or a reimagining of the basic concept remains to be seen. It’s possible that Penn’s assertion that The Matrix could not be rebooted was an in-joke for the fans, claiming that fans of the Animatrix and the comics will know what he means, and a clever attempt of subverting attention away from the idea. Studios have become painfully aware of the importance of at least making it look like they’re not simply cashing in on a brand name.

Mark Birrell

Mark is the editor of The Spread as well as a copywriter, film-blogger and lifelong cinephile who received his bachelors in Film and Comparative Literature from the University Of London.

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Posted on Mar 17, 2017

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